Ranks graying, Olds Fire Department faces dilemma
By BROOKS TAYLOR
Mt. Pleasant News
OLDS — Olds Fire Chief Marc Benson and his fire-fighting mates are looking for a few good men and women to join the ranks.
Similar to many fire departments in smaller communities, the Olds Fire Department has become grayer and thinner over time.
“We are faced with a dilemma,” Benson said. “We have aged and need some new young blood if we are to continue to serve our citizens.”
Benson, who joined the department 23 years ago, said the average age of the department is over 50 years of age with some members over 60 years old. “Realistically, in the next year we may lose one-third of our department due to age,” he said.
At its high point, the department had 24 fire-fighters, but attrition and retirements have diminished the roster to 14 currently. He said that the department needs at least 10 new members.
He said demographics have impacted the fire department somewhat. “We are more of a transient community now than before. People live her for a while and move on. It is more of a bedroom community and we have a lot of people (living in Olds) who did not grow up here.
“Over time, several members have joined the department and had to leave because their jobs took them elsewhere.”
Benson is extending an invitation to anyone living in Wayne Township and wishing to serve with the department to come to the department’s next meeting Tuesday, Sept. 24, at 7 p.m. at the Olds Fire Station.
The chief also acknowledged that service with the department requires a time commitment — a commitment some in today’s busy world don’t want to make. “Some of the younger people don’t want to have this kind of a commitment. Being a fireman (or woman) is something you really have to want to do.
“The thing is that we have a lot of older members who are getting to an age where they say they are getting too old and don’t want to do this,” he continued.
Benson sees issuing an open invitation to the community as a win-win situation. “We are going to harass anyone into joining…We decided to do it this way because we have to try (to recruit new members). We have nothing to lose.”